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Development of Motor Patterns in Cervical Muscles of Drinking Chickens

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

Motor patterns of the cervical muscles are decuced by calculating changes in muscle length, and changes in torque of the vertebral joints from the cervical motion patterns measured from films of the upstroke phase of drinking chickens. These calculated motor patterns correspond well with recorded electromyograms (EMG) in 5 adult chickens for nearby and far away positioned waterboxes. It is concluded that under the conditions of the drinking upstroke changes in muscle length and increasing or high torque values primarily determine motor patterning in cervical muscles. It is shown that in adult chicken the long dorsal muscles (M. biventer cervicis and the far cranially running slips of M. longus colli dorsalis), the MM. cervicales ascendentes and M. complexus must contribute in elevating head and neck. By calculating changes in muscle length and torques during the upstroke of unrestrained hatchlings, four weeks old, and adult chichens it is investigated whether the motor patterns are expected to change during ontogeny. Calculations show that motor patterns must change due to the growth pattern of the cervical system. In the younger stages head and neck are elevated mainly by shortening of only M. biventer and the slip of M. longus colli dorsalis running from notarium to axis. Shorthening of these muscles causes rotations in the cervical joints according with a specific motion pattern ("bike chain"). A mechanical model illustrates that action of these long, multi-articular muscles must result in that unique pattern. In adults, however, the torques are so large that other muscles (MM. cervicales ascendentes) must become active as well. This results in a change in the kinematic pattern. Finally, it is explained what parallel relationship exists between this transition in head-neck motion and a change in ratio of mouth volume and mouth wall surface. That change in ratio requires a transition in head-neck motion to ensure that water stays in the beak during head elevation in adult chicken. That transition is similar to the transition in head-neck motion that follows from the growth pattern of the cervical column.

Affiliations: 1: Neurobehavioral Morphololgy, Zoological Laboratory, Leiden University, P. O. Box 9516, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands


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